Reflections on Public Life and a Long Vacation

It’s been 25 days since my last blog post.

The break was intentional as I transitioned from my full time job of nearly eight years to becoming a full time student. In that three and half weeks I have lived un-publicly: I have said many goodbyes, relaxed on the Cape, read several books, done some significant cleaning, and explored the history of Boston’s North End.

It was remarkable to have so much time with so little responsibility. I got to truly relax and reset before beginning this next chapter of my life.

But I noticed something interesting as the end of my limbo neared: I was anxious about the prospect of regularly writing publicly again.

I kept finding myself wondering what topics I should write about, especially as I only half-followed the news. I kept finding myself wondering why I should even write publicly at all – an arguably presumptuous, egotistical move.

I started thinking that I wouldn’t blog on my promised restart date after all. Maybe I’d give myself another week to get settled into school. Then I could take the time to think of a worthwhile topic, I could find some commentary worthy of the public sphere.

But, of course, that’s the myth of public life: that it should be a place only for perfection, a space only for experts. That the rest of us, with our half-thoughts and individual perspectives should stick to the shadows, leaving our representatives to the public work.

When I started my vacation, my mind was exploding with possible blog post topics. Everything I read, every interaction I had – I looked for the public value in those private moments.

I left myself cryptic notes, “Voice – to broad public v. within institutions? Role of social media?” That idea seemed really important two weeks ago.

But as I got further and further away from public writing, I stopped thinking about public life all together. My private reflections remained private, and I thought less and less about their value to the public sphere.

I’ve no interest in leading a celebrity life – my private moments splashed all over the public domain. But at the same time I am a citizen, with an obligation to public participation , public deliberation, and, indeed, some measure of public life.

So I am back to blogging today, September 8, the day I said I would get back to it. I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to write, and I’m far from certain that my perspective holds much value.

But I will continue to write publicly, I’ll continue to think publicly, and, of course, I’ll continue to work publicly, side by side with all of you.

Because if there’s one thing I know, it is this: there is much work to be done.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

2 thoughts on “Reflections on Public Life and a Long Vacation

  1. Brandy

    I’m glad you’re back! And I’m glad you had some time away; both are important. Never doubt that your voice and your insight are valued. I look forward to reading your reflections as school gives you new ideas to dive into!

    Reply
  2. ellin

    Sarah, my love, my post-graduate student friend… I LOVE this phrase: “… that’s the myth of public life: that it should be a place only for perfection, a space only for experts. That the rest of us, with our half-thoughts and individual perspectives should stick to the shadows, leaving our representatives to the public work.”

    and also love this one : “I am a citizen, with an obligation to public participation , public deliberation, and, indeed, some measure of public life.” Absolutely! I had someone recently tell me I should keep my mouth shut (literally!) about a topic because I am “not elected”. Whew, that made me angry and determined to speak up even more (altho the subject stresses me out & I think I’m too old for the stress!)

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.